What are great tools for a makerspace? What materials should I get? I get asked these questions a lot. I can’t answer that for you because I do not know the culture of your school. Get your students and staff involved and ask them what they want to create. Ask your students and staff what materials they would want in your makerspace. Create a steering committee to help guide your purchases AND your programming. If they don’t know what to get or what to do, show them this list of awesome stuff and make plans together. See what your makers are interested in before making purchases because you do not want to spend money and have items sit on the shelf. (Read more about starting a school makerspace from scratch) Curious about how to get funding? Read my makerspace buy-in post here (coming in May 2016).
Great Makerspace Tools For All Ages
First, ask for donations and save cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, etc. You can never have enough cardboard, pipe cleaner, cardstock, etc. You do not need fancy gadgets to start a makerspace! You just need people and the motivation to create!
Ask parents for donations:
- Brushbot supplies: Scrub brushes and Electric Toothbrushes from the Dollar Tree
- Old car toys (Rocket propelled w balloons), balloons, old car toys with gears or switches, electronic motors for scribble bots (can buy from Radio Shack or get them out of a dollar store toothbrush), wire cutters, wire from phone lines (like old internet cords, etc), alligator clips, old tennis balls, old computers, old electronics, empty/cleaned coffee bags, oatmeal containers, 2 liter bottles, Modge Podge
Once you’ve started a maker culture at your school, create a steering committee to help you guide your makerspace purchases. Also have students and teachers help you write grants for awesome makerspace tools.
*What if I can’t get it all? Decide how you want to run your space. Do you wanna have workshops or challenges? A challenge lasts a lot longer, so you could buy 10 sets of Makey Makeys and run a challenge for a few months. Or get 10 Spheros and do a different Sphero challenge each month. Just keep stretching your ideas and see where your imagination can take you, but don’t get bogged down ordering a lot of stuff you do not know how to use. Buy a set of something and see where it takes you! Also, don’t wait until you know how to use it before using it with students! Learn ALONGSIDE your makers!
Here is a list of items to share with your makers:
Good for Upper ES- HS
- Makey Makey : (Order a class set and order extra alligator clips) – excellent resource for teaching the basics of circuits and electronics. Plus, you can basically invent anything with the world around you!
- Makey Makey Go : My new favorite maker tool! Read my review and project ideas here !
- littleBits deluxe kit, littleBits Pro library or One of Everything – Good for learning about sensors, synths, and basic electronics, littleBits STEAM Set, littleBits Arduino Module
- Arduino (Once your kids have mastered littleBits, Makey Makey, and still want to learn more….)
- Sugru: Crazy cool stuff for toy hacking workshops, creating your own battery cases (You can also buy this from Adafruit)
- Makedo Kit (Make anything with cardboard) – Great for ES and Caine’s Arcade
- Hummingbird Kits : Teach your kids to write programs in Scratch and then use that knowledge to create and program their own robots with recyclables! THIS KIT IS AMAZING! (BirdBrain also makes a great robot for little makers called Finch!)
- Sphero 2.0 on Amazon ( I call Sphero my library cat, but go ahead and order a class set. These guys can help students visualize distance, rate, time, and percentages! Ollie is just for fun though!)
- Ollie from Sphero : Sphero is actually a bit easier to program than Sphero!
- Dash and Dot : Wonder Workshop robots that interact! Great for teaching programming with an already made robot!
- Cubelets Six and Cubelets Twenty : Another cool snap together robot.
- Redbot from Sparkfun : Build a robot and learn to program it with the Arduino programming language.
- Makebot Mbot Robot : I haven’t been able to try this bot yet, but I’ve heard of quite a few libraries that have them.
- Wink Robot from PlumGeek : An Arduino based robot I’m itching to try out!
- Edison Robot : Lego compatible
- Lego Wedo 2.0 : Compatible with Scratch programming!
- Chibitronics : Get the notebook to teach your makers all about paper circuits and then buy the educator pack!
- Snap Circuits : (You can actually order a lot of these kits from Barnes and Noble)
- Circuit Scribe: Draw your own Circuits
- Bare Conductive : Electric Paint- need I say more?
- Bare Conductive Classroom Pack- Get up to 30 people excited about painting circuits!
- Wearable Electronics for soft circuits like Lilypad Protosnap from Sparkfun, Flora or Gemma (But again, have a specific project in mind and buy all accoutrements)
- Light Up Tesla Kit : Interesting snap together kit that pairs with an app to help kids learn about programming and circuits.
Coding and Programming
- Tickle App : Free programming tool for Apple OS.
- Bitsbox : Subscription box that teaches kids to code. Great beginner tool!
- Kano Computing Kit : This amazing Raspberry Pi computer is teaching my 7 year old how to code! (Check out the review in Wired!)
- Digital Sandbox : All the power of Arduino without having to plug in all the tiny pieces. A good starter to teach 4th and up about programming and move them into Arduino later (Also works with Ardublocks which looks like Scratch!)
- Sparkfun Inventor’s Kit : Great kit for learning Arduino. You can use Ardublock on Sparkfun’s site to help kids with coding Arduino with a drag and drop platform. (Also, learned about an extension created by Kreg Hanning where you can program your littleBits Arduino module in Scratch! Go get that at his github!)
- Raspberry Pi : (Look at Adafruit’s project page so you’ll have some ideas on what else you need to order besides this microcomputer. )
- 3D Printer : I have one, but I’d rather have a Lulzbot or a Makerfront. I’ve started thinking about some 3D printer EDU lessons!
- Morphi App
- Laser Cutter
- Vinyl Cutter
- Watercolor Bot : I need one of these!
Good for Lower ES
- Makedo Kit: Build anything with cardboard (smash this with Hummingbird robotics to build cool stuff!) Buy here.
- Bee Bot: Codable robot for littles
- Kibo Robot : Snap blocks together, scan, and watch Kibo go! I love that this teaches coding skills in a kinesthetic way!
- Cubelets: Cool snap together cubelets that teach you about robotics! (Good for MS) Check out the Cubelets 20 Construction Kit!
- Dot and Dash: Good programmable robot that kids under 2nd grade can handle
- Paper Circuits: Copper tape, 2032 coincell batteries, pre-printed instructions
- Rocket projects- balloons duct taped to Hotwheels, DIY stomp rockets, lots of good stuff out there on Instructables! (Good for MS)
- Tegu Building Blocks: Wooden magnetic building blocks
- K-nex- there are lots of great kits, but I love this “Intro to Gears” set and Legos- Simple and Motorized Mechanisms Set , Simple Machines Set, NXT Mindstorms Set (Also good for MS)
- Blink Blink Kit– Fun paper circuit kits
- Electric Motors Catalyst by Tinkering Labs
- Rigamajig – Build crazy cool stuff like catapults and pulleys- flat packs for storage
- Mobile Mag Wall for libraries– LOOKS AMAZING!
Looking for my reviews of makerspace tools? I’m compiling a list of my maker tool reviews here.